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Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture: Composting helps dairy farmers 'do less and accomplish more'
by Global Good News staff writer
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6 September 2013
Dairy farmers know that cows are sensitive, intelligent, and need to be nourished. They need to roam free in healthy pastures, so they can choose the balance of herbs they need in their diet. Contented, healthy cows, it seems, produce the best quality milk.
To improve the quality of the grasses that are cows' main source of nourishment, the application of compost in pastures was implemented and is now becoming much more common. Dr Peter Swan, an expert in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture, recently described some of the new principles that have been emerging in this area of agriculture, based on traditional practices and scientific research findings.
The main impetus for widespread use of composting began in the early twentieth century in India with Sir Albert Howard, an organic farming pioneer and researcher, who learned from traditional Indian farmers how to make compost. During his career he inspired people throughout the world to make and use compost in their farms and gardens.
Researchers have studied the effects of composting in pastures, and have found numerous benefits. For example, studies reveal that composted pasture yields 10% more harvested grass, measured by kilos/hectare, over control fields that have been treated with conventional fertilizers.
Composted fields cost less to treat, and at the same time produce more than the control (conventional) fields. In addition, the average percentage of clover in pastures treated with compost tea is 42.5%, compared to a control plot yielding only 6.25%. This finding, Dr Swan pointed out, shows that it is not only the quantity of feed that increases, but the quality also dramatically improves (clover contains important nutrients for both cows and the soil).
Mineral levels in compost-treated forage were also found to be significantly higher. On the other hand, in conventional dairy farming where there has been widespread implementation of chemical agriculture, many essential minerals are dramatically decreased or nonexistent in the cows' diets.
Another example Dr Swan gave of how dairy farmers have been able to accomplish more while expending less energy and spending less money, is by training cows to eat 'weeds'. In doing so farmers have been able to increase forage by over 40%.
Weeds, it turns out, have as much nutritional value as grass, and often as much as alfalfa. In about a week a cow can be trained to eat the herbs and other local native grasses that are often labelled weeds. It has been shown that the minerals and phyto-nutrients in the weeds are actually healthier for the cow than the diet consisting of just one or two grasses that are grown specifically for them.
Composting pastures and teaching cows to eat weeds, Dr Swan said, are examples of 'doing less and accomplishing more' and 'agreeing with the culturing intelligence of nature'—main themes of Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture.
Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service
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